A Health Equity Lens Brings Meaningful Focus to Research
Now more than ever, equity—and particularly health equity—are trending topics in the United States. Government, nonprofit, and private organizations alike are examining programs and services to prevent disparities in how socially disadvantaged populations access and use them.
At Econometrica, we refer to health equity as a “lens” because we use it to bring a sharper focus to every project. Whether it is analytical services, technical support, web-based training, instructional design, or collaborating with stakeholders, this lens helps us refine our work. An emphasis on diversity of race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexuality, ability, politics, discipline, and geography makes sure we represent all voices. We also consider social determinants of health (SDOH): the environment where a person is born, lives, learns, works, and ages that plays a role in their health and quality of life. Being mindful of health equity helps us identify systems of oppression that can skew results. With that awareness, we can develop effective solutions, leading to meaningful, real-world outcomes.
Health Equity in Action: Quality Measures
During a recent project for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), Econometrica identified and developed a new set of quality measures to promote the transparent comparison of the quality of participant care. The National Quality Forum (NQF), an organization that sets standards for quality measurement in healthcare, endorsed three of these new measures.
One key gauge of PACE’s success is whether participants can maintain living in the community. This includes living options such as assisted living facilities, affordable housing for older individuals, or in their own homes with the aid of a caregiver, rather than long-term nursing homes or hospitals. However, compared to urban areas, rural areas have fewer of these community living options
In order to cultivate results that provide an accurate picture of how PACE is performing, Econometrica designed a measure of “community” that did not penalize communities with fewer living options. We flipped the framing of the measure, instead deciding to frame the measure as the percentage of PACE participants who reside in long-term nursing homes or hospitals. This changed measure was more inclusive of all communities, even those with limited living choices.
In addition to the more inclusive measure of community, we used the following methods with health equity in mind:
- Oversampled rural sites to maintain perspective
- Disaggregated, or separated, measure testing data by gender and age to identify underlying patterns
- Ensured cultural competency for advanced directive measures
Use SDOH to Ask the Right Questions
Using this health equity lens allows us to formulate the right questions, so we have the most effective tools to determine who is really benefitting from a program like PACE. Did it work for everyone in the same way? Were the benefits and burdens equally distributed? The results help policymakers refine the program to more precisely benefit participants.
During the four-year PACE project, Econometrica conducted a wide range of information-gathering activities using health equity as a guide. Our team convened a technical expert panel to engage the input of specialists in the field through 15 panel meetings, interviews, and one-on-one discussion. We made 31 site visits to PACE organizations and interviewed PACE staff, caregivers, and participants.
Commit to Health Equity
Working with partners, managing projects, analyzing data, and developing training materials with an eye on diversity is a natural priority when it is at the forefront of company culture. At Econometrica, we have:
- A staunch commitment to hiring people with diverse backgrounds and experiences: Econometrica’s team members speak English, Farsi, French, German, Mandarin, and Spanish. We specialize in conducting interviews for non-English speakers and creating culturally appropriate materials.
- Expertise in working with diverse populations: Our projects have served older adults, adults with disabilities, racially diverse populations, families with children younger than 6, and low-income communities. Our team includes public health and community health researchers, a gerontologist, and former nursing home administrator.
- Firm dedication to staying on the forefront of the latest trends in health equity research: We follow on-topic learning resources and create scholarly articles, including our newly published policy review, “Innovations to Address Social Determinants of Health.”
Work With Us, Work for Us
Econometrica specializes in research and management across numerous industries in both the public and private sectors. We are always looking to hire the best and brightest in data science, health, grants management, energy, homeland security, housing and community development, capital markets and finance, and transportation. We work as the lead service provider, and also as a capable outsource partner to other consultancies. To work with us on your next project, visit us online and email a member of our executive staff in your preferred specialty. To explore the benefits of working for us, visit our careers page.